Florida is behind the country in recognizing Juneteenth as a federal holiday

Author: Annette Montgomery
Published: Updated:

While other states are celebrating June 19, known as Juneteenth, with a paid day off from work, Florida is just observing the day with select businesses and governments having the day off.

June 19, 1865, is the day Major General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas, and announced the end of the Civil War and the end of slavery.

Although the Emancipation Proclamation came 2½ years earlier on January 1, 1863, many enslavers continued to hold enslaved Black people captive after the announcement, so Juneteenth became a symbolic date representing African American freedom.

President Joe Biden declared the day a holiday in 2021.

Florida doesn't recognize Juneteenth as paid day off.
President Joe Biden points to Opal Lee after signing the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act, in the East Room of the White House, Thursday, June 17, 2021, in Washington. From left, Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif, Rep. Danny Davis, D-Ill., Opal Lee, Sen. Tina Smith, D-Minn., Vice President Kamala Harris, House Majority Whip James Clyburn of S.C., Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, obscured, Rep. Joyce Beatty, D-Ohio, Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., and Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

There have been several attempts in the Florida legislature to make Juneteenth an official holiday in the state since Governor Ron DeSantis signed a resolution back in 2020, but in 2024, here we are, still working as the state is not recognized on the state’s calendar or a paid day off.

Charles Barnes, the chair of the Black History Society said they’re still recognizing the day every slave learned they were free, but it might take organizations and people to help the state to step it up.

“Hopefully we get with the rest of the world, the rest of this country. We’re dragging in how we recognize it and how we acknowledge it. But I think that organizations like us and other organizations in this country, in the state of Florida, have to keep pushing it,” Barnes said.

Martin Byrd, the president of the Dunbar Festival Committee is also doing his part by joining FGCU on Juneteenth to educate the public on the important holiday, he said it might take something significant to happen for the state to recognize the holiday like others do.

“There’s still education needed to be done on what is Juneteenth, when it happens and why it’s important. It’s American history. So, there’s no reason that that part should be left out,” Byrd said. “As we’ve seen with post-George Floyd, when people can see in their face the injustice, that is what draws attention to the causes. So, until something like that happens that really shakes people, or someone or something happens to them closely, intimately. It’s probably going to be hard to make that change.”

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